UCLA finishes up the current 8 game road trip with 3 games in Salt Lake City against Utah. Utah has a conference record of 2-13, worst in the league by 2 full games. If there was ever a time for the Bruins to break out of their recent doldrums, this is it. The games are moved up a day, due to Easter Sunday. UCLA enters the series with a record of 19-15 (7-5 in conference games). Utah is 11-21 overall.
Thursday afternoon (4 pm Pacific time), James Kaprielian (5-3, 2.20) makes his normal opening game start. He will face fellow sophomore righty Dalton Carroll (1-3, 5.40). UCLA is 6-3 in Friday games. The average score of these games is 4-2. Kaprielian has been on fire recently, with a scoreless streak of 20 innings and counting. Yesterday, he was named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team for the upcoming summer. He joins Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Adam Plutko and David Berg as recent Bruin pitcher representatives on the national team. This is a well-deserved honor. Utah counters with Dalton Carroll, who has the highest ERA of any of the 3 Utah starting pitchers. Interesting strategy, to say the least. Utah is 4-5 in Friday games. The average score in these games is 4-4. However, the normal Friday starter for Utah has been moved back to game 2, presumably to keep him on his normal weekly cycle. Carroll has been the midweek starter, and has worked out of the bullpen during Pac-12 play up until this game. This is clearly a favorable matchup for the Bruins. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 network.
Friday afternoon (4 pm Pacific time), Grant Watson (4-4, 3.02) makes his normal game 2 start. He will face junior righty Mitch Watrous (1-3, 3.57). UCLA is 4-5 in Saturday games, and has dropped 3 in a row. Watson's issue has been giving up multiple runs in an early inning. This would be a nice trend to break right now. The average score in UCLA's Saturday games is 3-3. As mentioned above, Watrous has been Utah's normal Friday starter, and with a 4-5 record in Friday games, and an 11-21 record overall, the Utes are clearly at their best with Watrous on the mound. Utah is 3-6 in Saturday games, with an average score of 3-4. They have been scoring less on Saturdays than on Fridays, which is fairly unusual. Let's hope that Watson can keep that going this weekend. This game will also be televised on the Pac-12 network.
Saturday morning (11 am Pacific time), Cody Poteet (2-2, 4.64) makes his normal game 3 start. He will face senior righty Zach Adams (0-1, 2.01). UCLA is 5-4 in Sunday games, and has dropped 3 in a row. Poteet has only gone 4 innings total in his last 2 starts. He clearly needs to go deeper, as he was earlier in the season. The average score in UCLA's Sunday games is 5-5. As mentioned in the Arizona series recap, this year's Bruins team is only 11-5 in games where the Bruins score at least 5 runs, compared to last year's record of 30-1. Sunday is the prime culprit. The Bruins have scored 5 runs on 3 consecutive Sundays, but are 0-3 in these games. Poteet needs to go deep and clamp down on the opposition. Utah is 2-7 in Sunday games, with an average score of 3-6. But, Adams has been pushed back from his normal game 2 start to pitch game 3, presumably to also keep him on his normal weekly cycle. And Utah has a better record with him on the mound than they do with their normal Sunday starter. This will be a good test for Poteet. Let's hope that he passes with flying colors.
UCLA is currently tied for 5th in the conference, 3.5 games off the pace. Frontrunner Washington visits Cal, which is currently tied for 9th. So the Bruins will most likely need to win this series if they want to keep pace.
Go Bruins !!